Dan's Review: Few surprises in "The Curse of La Llorona"
Apr 19, 2019 11:19AM
By Dan Metcalf
Linda Cardellini, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, and Roman Christou in The Curse of La Llorona - © 2019 Warner Bros.
The Curse of La Llorona (Warner Bros.)
Rated R for violence and terror.
Starring Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Roman Christou, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, DeLaRosa Rivera, Madeleine McGraw, Sophia Santi, Oliver Alexander, Jethan Camarena, Irene Keng.
Written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis.
Directed by Michael Chaves.
Horror movies baffle me. Of all film genres, they are the most formulaic, redundant and ridiculous, and yet, they persist. Maybe it’s like a religious experience for fans, or maybe there’s audience turnover, but studios keep making them and people still pay money to see them. I suppose the biggest drawing power is the “being scared” thrill, but for me (and this is why I’m not a fan of most horror movies), I tend to avoid being scared because there’s plenty of reality to keep me concerned. I can usually place horror movies into two subcategories: 1. Slasher/homicidal maniac(s) and 2. Occult/evil entities. The Curse of La Llorona falls into the latter subset as a story about an evil corporeal entity out to kill children. Fun, I know.
Set in 1974, Linda Cardellini plays Anna, a widowed single mother and social worker whose husband was an LAPD officer killed in the line of duty. She lives in a spacious bungalow with her two children (they also have a nice swimming pool, because having a small body of water nearby is important to the main plot here). When two boys in here caseload are found drowned in the LA River, she arrives on the scene with her two children Samantha and Chris (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen and Roman Christou) asleep in the car. Chris hears a crying woman nearby (“La Llorona”), he investigates and is marked by the creepy woman who tries to drag him away. Anna begins to notice strange occurrences in her home, with similarities between her kids and the boys who were found dead. Her questioning leads to Father Perez (Tony Amendola), the same character from the “Conjuring/Annabelle” film series, who informs Anna that the evil creature is indeed La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), a Mexican woman who murdered her own children in the 1800s to spite her philanderous husband. The legend holds that La Llorona is out to take living children to replace her own. Father Perez directs Anna to Rafael (Raymond Cruz), a former Catholic priest who left the church to be an exorcist, mostly in pursuit of La Llorona. Rafael helps Anna confront the monster in a great standoff at her home over one night.
So, there isn’t a lot of nuance between The Curse of La Llorona and any other evil/occult horror movie. It’s the same basic idea of some sort of evil spirit coming into existence because of some legendary evil act, and comes to life in modern times, intent on killing as many people who do NOT heed warnings and make bad decisions. There are jump scares and close calls, along with plot devices that conveniently present themselves at just the right moment, just like the need for La Llorna to drown her victims, and lo and behold, a single mother who lives on a social worker’s salary lives in a spacious LA bungalow with a pool right outside the back door.
Yes, I’m getting bogged down on the details, but they matter if you’re going to make a horror movie that stands out among SO many others with the same basic idea.
There are a few funny and ironic moments in The Curse of La Llorona and a decent performance from Raymond Cruz as the film’s dry-humored exorcist (Maybe a better title would have been “The Mexorcist,” but I digress). The rest is something we’ve all seen before, which makes the jump scares a little less than surprising and the horror a little more than watered down.
I don’t like to use the qualifier of “if you like this sort of thing” but it’s useful whenever I see a horror movie. So, if you enjoy horror movies, The Curse of La Llorona will probably deliver. For the rest of us, it will be just another in a long list of forgettable horror movies.
"The Curse of La Llorona" Trailer